When most of us think about getting a job in the future, we have a usual notion of seeing ourselves sitting in an office somewhere, hopefully lucky enough to have our own cubicle. However, more and more workers are beginning to work from home over the past decade, and it has people wondering; is working from home more of less efficient? According to numerous studies, it is been shown to actually improve efficiency and work better than a traditional office space! This data is certainly not in line with what someone might think about a home environment. No supervision? More distractions? Seems implausible right?
To reach an answer we first must look at the studies made about this claim. Much of the research done is within a business itself, often to show the upper level management the affects of working at home. One company looked at the number of calls the different workers took from the different environments. They gave their employees the opportunity to volunteer to work at home for nine months. They then chose half of the volunteers and allowed them to work from home, and kept the other half in a traditional work environment. Their results showed a 13.5% increase in the amount of calls taken. They benefits shown also included an increase in employee satisfaction and a decrease in turnover rate (employees who quit). The company also saved thousands per employee on office space and furniture.
The results of the company certainly are intriguing. If true, they could be replicated across many company platforms and revolutionize the way companies work, literally. However the study was only within a very specific company and focuses only on one part of their productivity. By looking at their data, it does seem plausible their X variable (work at home) does in fact cause Y (increased productivity). However there is no proof of causation in their study. Their study was not randomized, and they took volunteers that already wanted to work at home. This may show how they already want to work at home, therefor their productivity will increase no matter what. Or, these individuals may be affected by another variable that affects both X and Y. There is not enough concrete evidence to assume this is true.
Many people and business owners are still skeptical. For example, Marissa Mayer, the executive of Yahoo, recently decided that all employees must come into and work from an office, or they can quit. For such a drastic move it is easy to assume they have put a lot of thought into the decision. Also, there could be downsides to this in some industries as opposed to others. The rate of promotion for employees out of the office also dropped. What should a business do in this battlefield of pros, cons, and unproven results? I think it largely depends on the business and their own decisions. If they feel the previous research fits their model then they could use it to influence their decisions and review their actual results. Or they could make decisions on their own such as the Yahoo example. What do you think is the right place for workers?